Blog Tour Review of The Windrunner's Daughter by Bryony Pearce: YA Dystopian On Mars

When I received the email from YA Bound Tours for this tour, the cover immediately grabbed my eye. My only hesitate was being run down on post-apocalyptic dystopians with the last several being less than stellar. After reading the blurb, I decided to test myself. If I still thought about the Windrunner’s Daughter days later, I’d sign up to review it.

Good news, this system worked!

Genre: Sci-Fi, Dystopian
Age: YA
Format: Ebook, 350 pgs.
Source: Free copy to review
Rating: 3.5 Stars
Recommendable? Yes
CW: Death, Oppression, Disease,
A sabotaged colonization attempt leaves the last humans in the universe stranded on Mars. Braving a half-terraformed atmosphere, terrifying indigenous species, and a colony government that is openly hostile, a young girl named Wren must defy tradition to save her mother and perhaps, every human left.

It is forbidden for women to steal the wings that allow a select group of runners to carry messages and goods between colonies. It is forbidden to cross the wastes with a sand storm on the horizon and it is certainly forbidden to share the secrets of the windrunners with those who spend their entire lives in the biospheres.

But what choice does she have?

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The Good The Bad & The Other
+Loved Wren -Slow start
+Character progression -Didn’t like Raw at first & his beginning actions still sour me a bit…
+Important and intriguing prologue that lays the groundwork -Likable romance while reading but remain doubtful afterwards
+Action & twists I didn’t see =Open ending, Don’t find out answers behind the sabotage or how Mars will turn out
+Personal character conclusion is sweet
+Atmospheric with the wind descriptions and weather.
+Love the world building and setting
+Different and stands out from the pack of other dystopians
+Cover love

The Windrunner’s Daughter starts with a rapid fire prologue that tells the story of the founding trip to Mars. Earth is lost irrevocably, the exact reason matters not but of course, we destroyed it.

However, I’ve had a couple more questions since reading because it doesn’t give details on who started their sexist set up. Was it the Originals, humans agreed to this before coming over, or was it sabotaged along with the physical set up? How far back does this conspiracy go? How deep does the bigotry run?

Ultimately, it’s neither here nor there but it’s another avenue I wish was explored more. The world building is kept tight around what’s relevant for Wren’s journey and bucks the trend of dystopian trilogies. It’s refreshing along with the uniqueness of the setting. Yet…those very things make me want more.

We meet Wren after the prologue and how she lives in her Mars colony. It’s a screeching halt after the space action in the prologue. It builds the politics, oppression, environment, and characters until Wren finally takes flight. It’s good. I enjoyed it and it’s necessary but for some reason I wasn’t ensnared yet. Maybe it’s just another world where women are oppressed and that’s depressing? IDK. It was easily put down but wasn’t forgotten, so I stuck around. Then the rush hit and I couldn’t walk away.

“Yet words popped like bubbles in her gut: clear off, you.”

Wren isn’t the typical dystopian heroine. She isn’t the chosen one and she doesn’t initially set out to change the world. She’s afraid. She worries and second guesses herself. I love how she’s dependent on her mask and terrified of the creatures. She’s not unique, except she’s the only daughter of a runner we met. I’m sure there’s more, breeding wouldn’t work any other way. She’s not the next Katniss and stronger for it.

“I'm not a broken pot," Wren cried. "You can't just give me away. I’d rather join the damned baby exchange.”

One of the foundations of the story is Raw. He’s an asshole and I don’t mean that in the “oooohh, bad boy” kind of way. I fucking hated him. He’s every douche nozzle boy bully on the playground. He’s legitimately terrifying and I worried for Wren. However, he ends up revealed, developed, and useful. I eventually enjoyed his part of Windrunner’s Daughter.

Even after discovering his backstory and progression, I’m still not sweet on him though. I was swept up while reading but it was soured by the “oh, he’s doing that because he likes you” undertones. I loathed hearing that growing up and even if it is true he’s interested in you, that’s no excuse. The good news is his behavior is corrected instead of condoned. I just have a hard time letting go.

I like how they grew as people and adapted to each other during their adventure. It’s sweet how they started to look at each other differently. While it’s true people bond over experiences and misattribution of arousal leads to stronger couples, I wish they had more in common. They clearly disagree about religion, politics, come from different subpopulations, and we don’t even know about the popular culture of the Dome to know what else they could agree or split on. How will Rawren live together and get along?

While I still appreciate what they’ve been through and think they can work it out, I’m left wondering about their future; their OTP status is up in the air along with the future of humanity on Mars.

But I LOVED the flying and exploring they did. It’s gorgeous with better wind/air descriptions that I’ve run across, even in wind nymph/mage books. The feeling, the freedom of flight is so pure and prominent it elevates the setting and creates atmosphere to sweep you away.

“Light played over silver graphene and the fluttering material sang alongside Wren’s laughter.”

For a long while it’s only these two kids on a dangerous topsy-turvy path. We only learn about Wren’s family through flashbacks until much later. I love how it includes the naturally skewed way we view people close to us and how everyone has different sides.

It was a welcome change to meet more runners and grounders. Their religious fever and witch trial parallels are apparent and it fits their evolution. My only question is how did runners end up immune? Was it just separation or a deliberate decision by the establishment? Fascinating. I love thinking all these things through. It’s not a spoon-fed blueprint of failure and preaching, but a snapshot of possibilities while remaining clear in its stand.

“I write these acknowledgements with my own message - never give up on your dreams, dear reader. Because somebody, somewhere is waiting for you to get it right.”

About the Author:

I am an author of YA thrillers and science fiction. Angel's Fury (winner of the Leeds Book Award and the Cheshire Schools Book Award),The Weight of Souls, published in 2013, Phoenix Rising, published 2015 (shortlisted for Cheshire Schools Book Award and Wirral Paperback of the Year), Phoenix Burning,March 2016, Windrunner's Daughter, February 2016 and Wavefunction, April 2016.

Read the first chapters here.


The dystopian craze may be over but The Windrunner’s Daughter shows there’s still plenty to enjoy and explore, even if it doesn’t break all the molds. I was wavering between 3.5 stars and 4, but in the end couldn't round up because of the slow start, my issues with Raw, and

Recommended For: 
dystopian fans that want a different setting and a different type of heroine. If you’re burnt out on the oppression of women or want a diverse cast, you might want to skip it. If you love hate-love relationships and redemption, you’ll love Rawren.

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